Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizzy spells (vertigo) and hearing loss. In most cases, Meniere’s disease affects only one ear. Meniere’s disease can occur at any age, but it usually starts between young and middle-aged adulthood. https://g.co/kgs/8CVygr
For the last month, it’s been really bad. I’ve missed two raid nights in a row due to illness, the first two in a really long time. I’ve been fighting with near constant constipation for weeks. Yesterday I spent all day on the toilet with diarrhea. I haven’t talked about my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (with Constipation, making it IBS-C) diagnosis yet largely because it is too embarrassing to talk about bodily functions like that. Still, it is getting so bad that I’m going to have to do research on the subject so I will probably write something to codify what I find out about it in the coming months.
In the meantime I combat the symtoms of IBS-C at the same time as I combat the symptoms of my other chronic illnesses. I’ve had brief bouts of vertigo over the last three weeks, the worst of which started after the last struggle with constipation.
Sunday I woke up dizzy. My head was ringing so loud from tinnitus that I felt like I was under attack. I kept holding my head down trying to escape the noise and the pressure, looking over the tops of my glasses at everything and wondering why it all looked so blurry. I had nausea accompanying the nearly unexperienced session of diarrhea, so yesterday was a fun day. I did get nearly finished playing Horizon: Zero Dawn, at least.
I’ve joked for years with the Wife about wanting to have diarrhea because constipation is so uncomfortable and mine seems to never end, especially in these last few years. At least then my experiences in the bathroom would be different. After my marathon running to and from the bathroom yesterday, I can honestly say that I don’t look forward to a repeat of that experience any time soon.
At 1:39 AM this morning the pressure changed in my head. I no longer felt like my brain was being squeezed between my ears on both sides. For the first time in at least 24 hours, the pressure was off. The tinnitus changed pitch as well. Now I just feel like I’m going to faint.
This chronic illness crap is for the birds. Listen, existence. Pick one condition and stick to that one condition each day, please. I can’t take all the changing of things you are going to punish me with each day. One at a time. Take a number.
I’m suffering brain fog and vertigo for the third fourth day running today (February 12th) The symptoms became noticeable sometime before sunrise Saturday morning (February 8th) and now it is Wednesday morning. I’m going back to my World of Warcraft marathon that I interrupted in order to type this short paragraph. Hopefully I’ll have more to say than this. Eventually.
I tried doing a few of the vestibular exercises that I mentioned in the above post, and I nearly fell over twice (February 12th) I’m done. I’ve had two drafts sitting open on the desktop (they are still open on February the 22nd) They’ve been sitting open on the desktop since the day I wrote the piece that published on the anniversary of mom’s death. One of the drafts is about a Meniere’s trigger that I never took seriously until this week, the other one is about the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) that I’ve been wanting to work on for months. They’re just sitting there waiting for me to write something. I have 365 drafts already sitting in the edit interface, and there are two more just waiting there like I haven’t got more things in the works than I can manage already with this lack of clarity.
February 19, 2020. I’m moving this article forward in time because, frankly, I haven’t felt what I would call normal (interested in writing, interested in doing anything other than watching TV and playing World of Warcraft) since I wrote this piece on it’s original publication date. That was February the 11th, eight days ago.
Today I’m once again in active vertigo land and I’m once again enjoying my Xanax. A new cold front has moved into the Austin area and I’m definitely not myself. Weird dreams have dominated my nights when I can sleep, and sleep hasn’t been at night since I can’t seem to make myself go to bed until sometime between 3:00 and 7:00 am. That is going to sleep in the morning in my book, not at night. That side effect of Meniere’s symptoms is something that I have been trying to overcome for the last few nights, but even on those nights bedtime is still in the 3:00 am range.
I slept more than eleven hours last night after going to bed right before 3:00 am, and I woke up at 2:30 in the afternoon. So the Meniere’s symptoms that started sometime in the first week of February continue to plague me day and night more than ten days later. At least I was using my time productively for the first six days of February. I had no idea that what I wrote on or before the sixth would be the only substantial writing I would get to do for the entire month of February.
That first lapse of debilitating symptoms didn’t even last an entire day. Neither did the next one. Or the next one. Stay tuned. I’m still here somewhere. Hopefully there will be more on the blog soon. I may sit here and write a dozen news-related pieces while I sit and listen to podcasts. (I wrote four short commentaries for news articles that day)
Saturday the 22nd of February. I’d like to say the spell is past, but I’d be whistling past the graveyard if I did that. I feel better for the first time since I can’t remember when. Since before reading that Atlantic article that inspired the last post I linked. I wrote it and then I scheduled it, and the next thing I know it’s the 22nd and I’ve missed almost all of February. I’m going to walk while I feel up to walking.
It’s all the rage these days. You can’t swing a dead cat on the internet without hitting someone trying to sell you essential oil.
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Mother was into essential oils for the last few years of her life. Right up to the point where the cancer she refused to admit she had killed her. Part of her insistence on doing things the natural way was from her early education in Christian Science. At some point during her life she shifted god into nature and was convinced that living naturally, organically, was good for her. She did fine with that belief until she started denying the findings of science.
It is a common delusion. Much more common than Christian Science itself is. Most people think organic and natural signify good things until you point out to them that poisons are natural and organic. They are simply natural or organic poisons. Too much water can kill you, as the most basic example. Organic simply means that whatever the product is, it once was alive. Natural means that it can be found in nature. That’s it. That is all that the words mean.
An essential oil contains the smell of the thing. That’s all they are, the smell conveying particles of whatever is infused into the oil. There is no more and no less to the product being marketed as essential. Marketed as something you need or require, need or require being mistaken for smell (essentia) Essential, not essential. It smells like something, not you need that something.
The real problem I have with essential oils is the exaggeration of their effects. If the only claim that proponents of essential oils made was “this smells good, I think you’ll enjoy it” I wouldn’t be writing this at all. That’s not the case, though. The benefits of essential oils are exaggerated because exaggeration sells. Websites like this one make extraordinary health claims like curing colds, asthma, bronchitis, hypertension, liver congestion, heart palpitations, depression, and boosting your immune system (what does that even mean?).Other websites make fanciful claims like “restore your body’s natural energy balance” – a claim so bad it’s not even wrong.
Every time I go on a Meniere’s help group or talk to a layperson about my disability, almost without fail, someone will suggest I try some essential oils because they will fix whatever problem I’m complaining about at the time. Never fails. These days I have to actively restrain my own desire to lash out when whoever it is looks down their nose at me and pronounces the phrase essential oil.
I’ve tried essential oils. I still have some DoTerra oils that mom had amongst her possessions when we cleaned out her apartment. Tons of DoTerra branded products from vial purses to empty sample containers to dozens if not hundreds of different types of oils that she had read somewhere did this or that for her.
The Breathe formulation does open the sinuses when rubbed under the nose. Several of the essences in the formulation are known astringents. Astringents cause the skin to tighten, opening passages in the sinuses if you rub the oil under your nose. This is a known effect discovered by science. This isn’t because it is natural or organic, it is the chemical formulation that has this effect, an effect that can be duplicated artificially if needed. It’s simply cheaper to get the essence from the natural source. If it isn’t cheaper there are artificial manufacturers out there supplying the cheaper product. The chemical process will still work exactly the same, and you can save a buck at the same time.
The Digestzen has ginger in it. Ginger has long been used to calm digestion. I prefer chewing a Gin-gins to the grassy flavor of Digestzen, and excessive oil in the stomach is an agitant all in itself. Have a ginger ale. It’s all natural.
I can (and probably eventually will) go through every single oil that people offer to me as something that will fix my vertigo and dizziness. Mom offered me dozens when she was still with us. None of her magic concoctions worked. I wanted her concoctions to work, which is half of the necessary equation. The other half, science, simply wasn’t there to put the treatment over the line to make it effective. If it didn’t work when mom dispensed it, it isn’t going to work when a stranger suggests it. Zip it before I lose my temper and tell you what I really think of your woo.
I noticed it as I headed for bed this morning. Turning over in bed caused the world to spin, requiring me to focus in order to calm the spin. It wasn’t bad, but it was persistent.
It was also present when I woke up. As I moved about today, the spinning has gotten more persistent, tending towards nausea. So it is time for the Xanax again. The knee and the back are still painful from my bathtub flight last year, so I’m going to sit here and play World of Warcraft in my pained and vertiginous state. Because I’m going to do something today other than drool on myself. I’m hoping I’m not coming down with whatever sickness the Son brought home from college with him.
I was going to make spaghetti. That was my resolution. I was going to make spaghetti because the Wife had declared that her spawn and I were on our own for dinner since she had fed herself. The Son is in town for the New Years holiday, and I remembered that he loves spaghetti. So I thought “I’ll cook spaghetti tonight.”
Then I turned around in the shower to get my towel to dry off, and my feet left the floor of the tub. I slipped. As I’m suspended in midair I think to myself, “So this is how I die.” Naked, tangled in a shower curtain, with water raining down from the still-running showerhead. Neck broken, maybe? They’ll find me dead on the floor of the tub and they’ll say that I died due to a lack of adhesive ducks.
My second thought was “I’m not dying in this tub, motherfucker!” Ask the Son, he heard the cursing as I hit the edge of the tub and then hit my head against the wall so hard I thought I had broken it. Broken the wall. I was pretty sure I broke my head as well, because I lost vision for several seconds after the impact of skull against wall. I also mashed my left shoulder against the tub edge and jammed my left knee into something even more painful but I don’t recall what that was. Soapdish? Who knows. Somehow I managed not to drag the shower curtain down into ignominy with me.
This was on December thirtieth, the day before New Years. I spent several quality hours sitting in the hospital emergency room as they did a CT scan of my head and then waited to get back results. The CT scan was required because I’m still on blood thinners after getting the stents put in my chest in May 2019. Internal bleeding is a frequent problem when you are on blood thinners. I get bruises all the time for no good reason these days, much less accidentally trying to kill myself in the tub. So a brain bleed from whacking oneself so hard that you are certain the tile wall might have broken under your head (it didn’t) was a very likely possibility.
I got lucky there. No internal bleeding in the head. I wish the same could be said of my knee, shoulder and backside. All of which have impressive bruises all over them. The shoulder is finally starting to feel better today (the third of January) and the knee is strong enough to let me get up and down the stairs a few times so that I can write on the blog for the first time since the accident. The bruises on the backside are still going to require more heat to get them to be less pronouced and painful. Here’s hoping that they respond to heat treatment. If they don’t I’ll have to be asking medical professionals to look at my ass.
…and really. Does anyone want to do that? “Check out my butt Doc.” I’ll pass, thanks.
On Tuesday I started feeling the effects of an oncoming attack, but I was determined to raid with my group in World of Warcraft as scheduled. We managed to do our average best, although we didn’t clear the entire heroic level of Azshara’s palace the first night. On Wednesday I felt worse. The start of a two-day migraine set in, a knot of pain right in the center of my skull. I did manage to show up and raid again that day, but I wasn’t my best and it showed. Thursday the pain was so bad that I sat in the library with no lights on for the entire day, wishing the pain would go away. Even the monitor for the laptop set to the lowest light setting was bright enough to cause stabbing pain, so I just sat there listening to podcasts wishing I could do something else.
On Friday night the vertigo started. It was pretty mild, compared to vertigo attacks of the past. No projectile vomiting. No lying on the bathroom floor. The room would start spinning, and then I would re-orient myself by staring at a point on the wall for ten minutes or so. When I went to bed the vertigo was so bad and persistent that I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t focus on a point in the dark. So I took a valium and finally fell asleep. On Saturday the vertigo could not be dispelled any longer. No amount of re-orientation would make it stop, and I was beginning to get nauseous. Time for the Xanax, which I stayed on for the entire day and through most of Sunday morning.
I woke up about an hour ago. I feel dizzy now. Dizzy, not vertiginous. The lights are still too bright but they don’t hurt like they did Wednesday. I’ve got to go visit my ENT on Tuesday to get a refill on my Betahistine anyway, so at least I’ll have some symptomatic stuff to talk with her about while I’m there. I’m going to try the vestibular exercises that my physical therapist gave me as soon as I publish this. I tried them on Friday when the vertigo started and they just made things worse. Fingers crossed.
I missed raiding again tonight. Thunderstorms started rolling through Austin at about 5:30 pm and persisted until about 7:00 pm. After the first flicker of the house power during a storm we tend to turn all the electronics off. We turn them off and wait until the storm has passed. This is how we’ve approached dealing with power surges in Austin Energy’s lines ever since we lost electronics a number of years ago to a lightning strike that hit a transformer in the neighborhood.
But it wasn’t just the fact that I would have had to reboot the computer and do updates in a few short minutes that kept me from raiding tonight. I’ve been uncoordinated all day. Dropping things, knocking things off the counter that I knew were there and thought I would miss. Just a general sense of dizziness and disorientation that had me wondering if I would make it to raid tonight or not. When the thunder started rolling and the lights started flickering, I not only knew I would probably miss raiding tonight, but I knew that the reason I was feeling so unstable was the atmospheric pressure had changed with the storm front moving through, and that was probably why I was feeling so dizzy. This happens pretty reliably. I’ve tried tracking the barometric pressure in the past, but it doesn’t seem to be highs or lows that are the trigger, but the simple fact that the pressure changes rapidly.
When I went to do the new vestibular exercises that my physical therapist has me trying out, I could not do one of them properly, and this is the first time I’ve had this problem since starting the exercises. I can’t find any Youtube videos that replicate the exercise that was was given to me, the specific exercise that I’m having trouble with today. However, this video illustrates the basic mechanics.
I use my thumbs, and I close my eyes after centering on the target. Then I’m supposed to move my eyes to where I think the other thumb is and then open them again. If I’ve missed the second target I’m supposed to focus on the correct position, recenter, and then close my eyes again before moving my eyes back to where the first target was, repeating as many times as I think necessary.
I could not find the second target today. Dozens of repetitions and the target is never where I think it should be. Never happened before. I started doing this exercise a few weeks ago, and when my physical therapist showed me this exercise I was thinking I don’t need to do this, I know where my thumbs are. Using peripheral vision, I’ve managed to track back and forth between the two targets without a hitch every time I’ve tried the exercise. Then today, I open my eyes and I’m not looking where I thought I was.
I have the explanation for why I’ve been such a clutz all day now. It just doesn’t make me feel better knowing what the problem is. I’m going to have to do a better job of doing the exercises as often as needed and not just when I think I’m having a problem. At least the dizziness didn’t progress into a full-blown vertigo attack today.
I haven’t been tracking my vertigo spells on the blog. I don’t know why. I think I didn’t want to make everyone reading this suffer through repetitive bouts of vertigo with me by my documenting the episodes on the blog directly, each time that I went through one.
I wasn’t really able to type or even make noises beyond gagging on vomit between requests for someone to kill me in the years of suffering that I endured before being prescribed Xanax and Promethazine, which work quite well to subdue the worst parts of rotational vertigo.
…and after the attacks were over, sometimes two days later, I would be unable to do much more than sit up in bed and eat soup for at least a day. So I would have had to remember to go document the event while still recovering from the trauma of the event. Anyone who has had an intense illness can testify just how much they don’t want to go back and revisit just how hellish the event was later. “…and then I blew chunks all over the bathroom floor. Luckily I didn’t fall back into it when I passed out.” All the pain of a drunken bender without the entertainment of being stupid drunk first. Leave it in the past.
Now that I have a medication regimen down, I just have to deal with the fuzzy-headedness the drugs inflict on me. I’m stuck for hours, essentially staring at a fixed point in space so as to anchor the eyes on something. Oops they’re drifting left again. Find the Catbus plushy. No more drift? Okay, back to writing. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For as long as is necessary. For as long as it takes to get tired and fall asleep.
This year has been really bad. The worst since I stopped working and could eliminate stress by not having to perform on a set schedule every week. The increase in symptoms started February a year ago and has slowly gotten worse. I’m pretty sure it’s the second ear failing on me, having gone bilateral then. If that’s the true cause of my current suffering, then I should level back out after a few miserable years, and hit a different long-lasting trough of capabilities. I’ll just have to take stock again then, see what I can still do.
In the meantime I’m going to start trying to document each time I get full vertigo. Since I can do it while sitting here trying not to spin, access to the laptop being a qualifier, I’m going to do my best to write something while the vertigo is kicking my ass. I’m going to do this because this blog is for me as well as for you, dear reader. It might be handy to be able to go back and check how bad the bad really was.
This time the vertigo popped right in the middle of the heroic Azshara raid boss fight my current raiding group has been working on for the better part of two weeks. It looked like we might have a good chance of getting her down this week, but I kept getting dizzier and dizzier and missing prompts to go here and there as the mechanics of the fight require.
Just too much screen movement for a day that the eyes want to pretend that the world is spinning around my head. I had to bow out and leave them to their work. Hopefully they did better not burdened by my inability to deal with so much motion on the screen. It’s taken two hours to get the spinning down to the point where I can sit in my adjustable bed and type this simple entry up.
I don’t know how many actual spells I’ve had this year, which is why I’m going to start trying to do this each time I have one. I know it’s the first one in October because it’s still the first week of October, or was until yesterday. But I had at least two in September, ditto in August and it was even worse in July. June wasn’t too bad but that was when the light dizziness really seemed to kick in, May leading into June, and I can’t figure out what is causing this constant near-nausea inducing dislocation and disorientation on a daily basis. It is maddening.
I’m getting blood tests done for allergies this time, betahistine will interfere with the skin tests and I’m not willing to stay off it for a week. I’ve also started some training in vestibular therapy while I’m in physical therapy for lower back pain. I’ll write more on that subject when I know more about it. I just want the dizzy to GO AWAY. But it won’t. So I’ll medicate it away when I have to.
October 9th – Still recovering from the vertigo last night. I’m going to miss two raids this week. Can’t be helped. I’m almost in a vegetative state today.
A hat/tip is due to the blog Meniere’s and Me for bringing this finding to my attention. The Wife has called me her human barometer since I was first diagnosed with Meniere’s. I try to laugh with her when she says it.